A gorgeous ride! No doubt about it, Bill Gobie was inspired when we came up with this one. The weather certainly helped - mid sixties and (usually) blue skies. What a day for a ride.
Bill Gobie, Noel Howes, Jim Sprague, Mike Richeson, and I took the 6:10 AM ferry to Bainbridge in order to do permanent 342 Bainbridge - Port Townsend - Bainbridge. There were another ten or so riders ... many SIR members ... from the Redmond Cycle Club who were going to go around the Hood Canal. We all started out together on 305 and then through the back way of Port Gamble Road on the way to Port Gamble. They pulled off at Port Gamble - in search of coffee perhaps?. We pressed on, although without Bill, who was on his recumbent. We were confident that, as designer of the route, he knew the course well.
After Port Gamble, it was over the Hood Canal Bridge. At this hour of the morning, traffic was light, and with blue skies and calm winds, it was a good crossing ... and great views. A quick stop at the turnoff to Paradise Bay Road to regroup and off we go to Port Ludlow. Quiet road, blue sky, nice views ... we can do this all day.
Shortly before Port Hadlock we turn on 116 and head off to Fort Flagler. The roads get even quieter and the views even prettier. Riding through the park down to the beach is heavenly. At the beach we find the answer to the Info Control question, take advantage of the facilities, and grab a quick snack. Across the water we see our next destination ... Port Townsend. It is only three or four miles as the crow flies, but we have about twenty miles of pedaling.
Noel takes off first ... he knows the owners of the store in Nordland, a couple of miles south of the park ... and wants to stop by and say hello. A few minutes later we follow ... and see Bill turning into the park as we head out. Mike, Jim, and I begin to spread out .. Mike taking the lead. I press to catch up. After we go through Port Hadlock Mike comments on how fast Noel must be going. Apparently he hadn't heard that Noel was stopping nor seen his bike at the store ... we were chasing someone who was behind us ! Oops ! We press on to Port Townsend. On the bike path down to the town I am startled as I make a turn ... a deer right in front of me.
We pull into the Safeway quick stop in town and have a small lunch - chicken soup - and resupply. We then head on ... not sure if the others are ahead or behind us. We zig zag through town to get to Fort Flagler and the next info control ... avoiding the steepest park of the hill but probably going twice the distance ... but a good tradeoff. There is plenty of climbing on this ride as it is.
I always enjoy Fort Worden. It has many pleasant memories for me as I stayed there each fall for eight or nine years on our fall "campout" with the YMCA father-daughter program. A fun time with the girls ... and then with the dads playing poker after the girls "went to sleep".
After Fort Worden we head west and then south (not to mention up and down), following the coast. Other than SR-20, the roads are fairly quiet and enjoyable. On Cape George Road we see a baby deer and parent bounding across the road in front of us. On SR-20, we hit the cumulative 5,000 foot climb point. We turn onto Eaglemount Road ... more peaceful riding. At the info control, there is a large pond across the way in a green valley ... it feels like I should be in a rowboat fishing/snoozing.
No snoozing now though ... we zoom down a long hill, then turn onto West Valley Road. Next turn is THE CLIMB ... while not long, we have 200 feet of climbing in perhaps a quarter mile ... definately a good solid climb ... as we make our way to the last info control at Lake Gibbs. That behind us, we retrace our path, then continue our way towards the Hood Canal Bridge.
Our last obstacle of the day, the Hood Canal Bridge, is in front of us before we know it. Approaching it from the west on 104, we reach it with speed, as we are coming down from a 200 foot hill. Wanting to get across it relatively quickly, I maintain most of my speed, then remember that there is the narrow path on the right of the metal grate to stay on. I start to slow right as I get on it, then there is a hubcap sitting on the narrow path! A rush of panic, then I realize I can still make it past while on the path ... phew! I catch up to Mike just before the buldge and the metal crack that is soo dangerous. As he goes over it, something flies off his bike and then he stops. This is not a good place to stop. I go past, then stop also. He has a flat tire ! On the middle of the bridge OMG.
Fortunately right across the one lane of traffic in the middle of the bridge is an open area, protected from traffic. When there is a pause in the traffic, we cross over and Mike changes his tire. However, his pump fails him. Luckily, mine does the trick and the tire is soon ready to go. The wheel back on the bike, we're set to go, right? Wrong. It isn't spinning quite right. It turns out that the something flying off the bike was one of his min bungie cords snapping. While one piece flew off, the other part wrapped around the axle - between the spoke protector and the cogset. It was in there good. After 15 minutes or so of surgery with a knife and removing the spoke protector, the cord came out and we were back in business.
Back on the road, we soon made it to Poulsbo, the last control of the day. We stopped at the Marina Mart for a little snack, then it was off to the end. As we were leaving town, Noel caught up with us ... he had seen us pull out of the Marina Mart and so had made is stop a quick one to catch up. We rode together to the end, making it to the 6:30 PM ferry. Our ride was 11:25. Cumulative climbing was 7,500 feet.